That’s right. On Thursday, August 22nd, 2013, Ben Affleck was announced to be donning the cape and cowl as Batman in Zack Snyder’s upcoming Superman/Batman crossover film, Batman vs. Superman! Affleck will be the eighth actor to portray the most famous of American superheroes.
And the entire internet went batshit crazy.
In fact, the collective fan-base (one could call them rabid, I suppose) responded with a collective sigh that, I swear to God, created a warm breeze throughout my home upon getting word of the largely unpopular casting.
A fan-base hasn’t gone this crazy about a franchise they love going in some crazy direction since…since:
- Tim Burton was tapped to direct a Batman movie. You know that goofy looking weird-o and that goofy superhero from that lame TV show mom and dad used to watch when they were kids.
- Michael Keaton was cast as Batman. THIS Michael Keaton.
- The nipple suit. (I’ll give them this one.)
- Star Wars 1997 Special Editions and all subsequent revisionist changes. (And this one.)
- So wait, Darth Vader built C-3PO? (Okay, this too.)
- Christopher Nolan, a British up-and-comer famous for convoluted, “serious” drama, was tapped to direct a Batman reboot of some sort.
- Christian Bale was cast as Batman.
- Scarecrow is the bad guy?!?!?!
- Heath Ledger was cast as The Joker. THIS Heath Ledger.
- Anne Hathaway was cast as Catwoman. THIS Anne Hathaway.
- Disney buying Pixar.
- Disney buying Marvel.
- Disney buying Lucasfilm.
- J. J. Abrams was announced as the director for Star Wars, Episode VII.
- The Twinkie dying.
- Star Trek Into Darkness abandoning almost everything that makes Star Trek Star Trek (except the Enterprise, Kirk, Spock, Khan and…..,yea that’s it) and diluting down the once proud sci-fi series into goofy popcorn fanfare, all the while destroying downtown San Francisco.
- The Twinkie coming back to life (cream filling? or Khan super blood?).
- Superman killing General Zod after destroying downtown Metropolis.
Would everyone just relax a second and breathe?
Most of our past premature, rage-fueled judgments, especially ones related directly to the Batman franchise, have gone completely unwarranted. I can’t provide an accurate count as to how many websites posted, as deterrents for Heath Ledger as Joker, clips from 10 Things I Hate About You as exhibits A-Z that it was unequivocal proof that the execs at Warner Bros. had literally gone insane and were determined to once again ruin the Batman franchise.
And I’d be willing to wager that those same sites (ALL OF THEM), not two years later, were singing Ledger’s praises and spitting out sacks of hyperbole and pushing for a posthumous Oscar nod (and even win) lest the whole film community be the most unjust bunch of narcissists this side of the nuthouse.
In hindsight, that above clip demonstrates almost perfectly how well Ledger could play Joker (winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for the role that year). And Hathaway, another future Oscar winner, proved to be a bright spot on the uneven The Dark Knight Returns.
The last 24 hours have seen a certain brand of fan fanatics go way beyond the acceptable realm of decency. Philip DeFranco has said it best so far: “If Ben Affleck as Batman ruined your weekend…there wasn’t much to ruin in the first place.”
I’m not defending that Affleck is the right or wrong choice to play Batman in Snyder’s 2015 film. What I am advocating is a withholding of judgment for the time being. The truth of the matter is that no one on earth (except maybe the people who auditioned Affleck) have any clue how Ben will play Bats.
The internet provides an international forum for all to voice their opinion on the fly. No matter how premature, masturbatory or selfish that opinion is, it certainly is a right that we all have. Certainly you should voice whether or not you like or dislike the casting. But a line needs to be drawn somewhere.
Give it a chance before you crucify it. We literally have no basis to judge if this is a good casting or not.
Sure, Affleck has been in some stinkers at the box office. Daredevil is barely mediocre. Pearl Harbor is a mess. Armageddon is ridiculous and hammy. But for every Daredevil there is a Hollywoodland. For every Pearl Harbor, an Argo. And for every Armageddon, there is a performance as strong as the one found in films like Good Will Hunting, Changing Lanes or Shakespeare in Love. within the man that we will affectionately/disdainfully refer to as “Batfleck” from now on.
Have fans forgotten that films like Argo, The Town, State of Play and Hollywoodland, all recent films of Affleck’s, have featured strong, praiseworthy performances? Not to mention Affleck’s considerable ability behind the camera as director and screenwriter; the actor brings a lot to the table.
We won’t know until June 17, 2015 if Affleck can deliver for fans of the Caped Crusader. But we should at least give the guy a fair shot at proving us all wrong, shouldn’t we? When and if he completely blows on a Cloonian-level, then we can bash the multi-picture deal made Thursday into kingdom come without reservation.
Until then, recognize that we’ve been wrong before in our prejudgments and we’ll be wrong again. Our criticisms of Affleck as Batman are best saved until we actually see a performance in a finished film.
You never know; Ben Affleck as The Dark Knight might be exactly what we were looking for.